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Discrimination of high degrees: race and graduate hiring in Malaysia

Author

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  • Hwok-Aun Lee
  • Muhammed Abdul Khalid

Abstract

This paper investigates racial discrimination in hiring fresh degree graduates in Malaysia through a field experiment. We send fictitious Malay and Chinese résumés to job advertisements, then analyse differentials in callback for interview attributable to racial identity, while controlling for applicant characteristics, employer profile and job requirements. We find that race matters much more than résumé quality, with Malays – Malaysia's majority group – significantly less likely to be called for interview. Other factors, particularly language proficiency of employees, language requirements of jobs and profile of employers, influence employer biases. Applicants fluent in Chinese fare better, and Chinese-controlled and foreign-controlled companies are more likely to favour Chinese résumés, indicating that cultural compatibility explains part of the discrimination. Malay résumés tend to be perceived and prejudged adversely, and employers' attitudes towards public policy outcomes, particularly pertaining to education quality and employment opportunity in the public sector, also account for the observed racial disparities.

Suggested Citation

  • Hwok-Aun Lee & Muhammed Abdul Khalid, 2016. "Discrimination of high degrees: race and graduate hiring in Malaysia," Journal of the Asia Pacific Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 21(1), pages 53-76, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:rjapxx:v:21:y:2016:i:1:p:53-76
    DOI: 10.1080/13547860.2015.1055948
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